INDUSTRIAL action is looming at Dublin Airport over the October Bank Holiday weekend after talks aimed at resolving a pensions deficit row between SIPTU, Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority failed to find a solution.
Efforts to resolve the dispute over the €748 million deficit in the Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) pension scheme broke down last Thursday night at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). According to SIPTU Organiser, Dermot O'Loughlin, workers at the two companies are 'angry and disillusioned' with the discourteous behaviour which the Aer Lingus management team has displayed. 'Local representatives sought the opportunity to meet with the management side to tease out the specifics of the company's proposal. The company refused to meet and only provided a three-quarter page note entitled 'Proposal Summary' which was bereft of detail. Aer Lingus described claims that it had refused to meet union representatives as 'entirely incorrect'. Meanwhile, workers have also reacted angrily to a claim by the company that employees may only receive four per cent of their pension entitlements due to the distress of the Irish Airlines (General Employees) Superannuation Scheme (IASS). Mr. O'Loughlin said union members were 'astounded at the provocation and deliberate scare-mongering' in the statement by Aer Lingus on the pensions dispute. SIPTU said the IASS, which covers staff in Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority, is crippled with a €750 million deficit. Mr O'Loughlin said: 'Aer Lingus relies on flawed financial data to frighten its employees who are members of the IASS. ' The company is silent on the fact that it has cash reserves in the region of €900 million and has historically been one of the lowest contributors to its employee's pension schemes. 'At the recent Labour Relations Commission hearing the company made a derisory offer to deal with the deficit in the scheme which allows it to de-risk and walk away from its responsibilities to its employees.' He added: ' The management of Aer Lingus would be better served if it embraced meaningful negotiations rather than continue with its provocation and deliberate scaremongering.'